Re­spect­ing home’s her­itage by re­ject­ing clichés

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - DAVID SQUARE

IT is rare and re­fresh­ing to view a ren­o­va­tion that does not con­form to the open-area con­cept that has be­come a mod­ern cliché. Homes ren­o­vated in the first decades of the 21st cen­tury will be known for their con­spic­u­ous lack of divider walls, in­clud­ing load-bear­ing ones re­placed by en­gi­neered beams. The re­sult is a min­i­mal­ist dwelling that in­te­grates fam­ily, dining, and living rooms as well as a colos­sal kitchen with a gran­ite is­land the size of Man­hat­tan. As au­thor Mark Hel­prin says in Freddy and Fred­er­icka, “I won­der where in the world there is a hole big enough to swallow all the gran­ite coun­ter­tops that in a few years will be march­ing out of kitchens like an army of the dead.” It was, there­fore, a de­light to be in­vited into Brenda Koch-Schulte’s home built in the RM of St. An­drews by her hus­band’s fa­ther, Joseph Koch-Schulte. “My fa­ther-in-law, one of 13 chil­dren, and one of his broth­ers moved to Man­i­toba from West­phalia in 1929. They lived in Lit­tle Bri­tain with a large group of Ger­mans who had come to raise dairy cat­tle and farm the land.” Joseph and his brother set­tled just north of the town of Peters­field and erected a two-room dwelling, which, by 1934, had grown into a 2½-storey home sit­u­ated on a lovely par­cel of land be­tween present-day High­way 8 and High­way 9. Joseph’s wife, Clara, joined him in Canada while the house was be­ing com­pleted. They raised a fam­ily and farmed the land for many years. The West­phalia tra­di­tion of Schutzen­fest or the Ri­fle­man’s Meet­ing is still cel­e­brated to­day at an an­nual fes­ti­val held in Lit­tle Bri­tain, said Koch-Schulte, a Scot­tish im­mi­grant who met her hus­band in 1970 while they were both teach­ing at Peguis First Na­tion. In 1970, they were mar­ried and two years later moved to the orig­i­nal fam­ily farm near Peters­field where they op­er­ated a mixed farm, in­clud­ing beef cat­tle, feeder hogs, grains and oilseeds. Over the years, they hosted 15 young peo­ple from Ja­pan and France who ex­pe­ri­enced farm­ing first-hand. The cou­ple has three chil­dren who, when they were old enough, pitched in by build­ing barns, feed­ing an­i­mals and har­vest­ing crops. “We were for­tu­nate to own such a big house,” said Koch-Schulte. Her hus­band added a beau­ti­ful sun­room to the south el­e­va­tion be­fore he passed away in the first decade of this cen­tury. The room fea­tures four floor-to­ceil­ing win­dows, which look out on a front yard dom­i­nated by an enor­mous Man­i­toba maple tree that was just be­gin­ning its life when the house was built. Ad­ja­cent to the sun­room is a screened three-sea­son porch po­si­tioned to catch the pre­dom­i­nant west wind. A small dining area raised a cou­ple of steps above the sun­room has orig­i­nal fur­ni­ture in­clud­ing an oak dining ta­ble and six match­ing chairs, a wal­nut side­board, a Queen Anne-style

PHO­TOS BY DAVID SQUARE / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

The com­pletely ren­o­vated ex­te­rior of the Koch-Schulte house.

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